In the 1980s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were producers and writers at Tabu Records. Both Tabu and Perspective Records were eventually affiliated with A&M Records.
John McClain, Senior Vice President of Artists and Repertoire, brought Jam and Lewis to A&M's attention when he asked them to produce Janet Jackson's album Control. The following year he teamed Jam and Lewis with Herb Alpert to create the single "Diamonds" (vocal by Janet Jackson) and other tracks on Alpert's Keep Your Eye on Me album. They went on to produce many records in the A&M catalog including the group The Human League.
In June 1991, Jam and Lewis and A&M entered into a distribution deal that started Perspective Records. Perspective had offices at the A&M lot in Los Angeles and A&M's New York office. Sounds of Blackness was the first group signed to Perspective. The band Mint Condition led the year with a Top 10 single and a Top 100 album. The Sounds of Blackness debut album The Evolution of Gospel made the Top 200 on Billboard's Pop Album Chart and earned a Grammy® award for the Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus.
By early 1992 Perspective hired its own executive team and staff to work with A&M which supplied video, marketing and sales support. Mint Condition had its first two Top 10 R&B singles and Top 40 Billboard hit single while the Sounds of Blackness won a Grammy for its album Evolution of Gospel. Their singles "Optimistic" and "The Pressure Pt. 1" were both Top 10 R&B hits.
Mo Money was Perspective's first soundtrack. Issued in 1992, the label created an extensive campaign for the album. Pop and urban radio received samplers from the soundtrack and the first single was released six weeks before the film opened. MTV aired a special on the making of the soundtrack and the movie. Record buyers were treated to two radio contests and a "Win It Before You Can Buy It" call-in for the album. Mo Money was a crossover success becoming a Top 10 Pop Chart album.
Perspective would round out 1992 by releasing product by Lisa Keith, Lo-Key? and Bobby Ross Avila. The first Lo-Key? album, a Top 200 hit, contained the No. 1 R&B single "I Got a Thang 4 Ya." The song was also a crossover Top 30 pop hit on Billboard. The team of Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross had two Top 100 pop singles on the chart and the single "The Best Things in Life Are Free" was a Grammy® nominee in the category Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
In 1993 A&M and Perspective announced that Perspective would market A&M's R&B recordings through a multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement. A&M would retain its R&B artist roster and continue to release their records on the A&M label but would limit future artist signings.
Perspective's employee roster would grow from eight to 25-30 in just a few weeks. Perspective was now not only responsible for reaching the black marketplace, it was also responsible for helping artists cross over into the pop market. The Sounds of Blackness was a Grammy® nominee in the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) for "Santa's Comin' to Town."
In its plans for 1994, releases from Sounds of Blackness, Lo-Key?, and debuts by Drama, Krush, Ann Nesby, Raja-Nee and Solo. Raja-Nee's "Turn It Up" reached #31 on the Billboard R&B chart on December 17, 1994.
On March 11, 1995, Billboard reported Perspective formed P-Street Records for its rap and hip-hop artists. The first artist signed was Munchie. Other artists included Pudgee, Outsideraz and Almighty Arrogant.
During 1996, with disappointing sales, A&M began to regroup its black music division. Perspective added a regional sales force of six people, however, in December 1996, Jam and Lewis took their Flyte Time Records to Universal Music Group.
In September 1997, Jam and Lewis closed Perspective Records, laying off 27 employees. Perspective's only new releases were to fulfill contracts with its artists. In its six years with A&M, Perspective placed 16 recordings on the Billboard R&B Top 100. More than half of them were Top 20. It also claimed five RIAA gold album certifications--two each for the Sounds of Blackness and Mint Condition.
Adventurous Bow for Jam/Lewis Label: 'Evolution' Echoes Sounds of Blackness. D. Nathan. Billboard, June 1, 1991.
Jam & Lewis Expand Their Perspective: Label Boasts New President, New Energy. Billboard, February 22, 1992.
"Mo' Money": Major Push. Janine McAdams. Billboard, May 23, 1992.
A&M's Fresh Perspective. Chris Morris. Billboard, October 23, 1993.
Former Perspective Records web site.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Albums 1955 - 1996. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc., 1996.
Whitburn, Joel. Top Pop Singles 1955 - 1999. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc., 2000.
Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits 1942-2004. New York: Billboard Books, 2006.
Whitburn, Joel. Top R&B Albums 1965-1998, Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc., 1999.